Daniels keeping open mind as Deadline nears

July 22nd, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rangers are not ready to commit to being buyers or sellers with the non-waiver Trade Deadline looming in nine days.

But general manager Jon Daniels, speaking before Saturday's game against the Rays, appears open-minded to a strategy that would put the Rangers in the "sellers" category. That could include a willingness to trade pitcher , who can be a free agent after this season.

"We haven't ruled anything out at this point," Daniels said. "Our priority is to win this year. That would be the top of the list, but we're also going to be pragmatic and really consider our options."

Texas is shooting for a Wild Card spot, with Houston running away with the American League West. Entering play Saturday, the Rangers were 4 1/2 games back of both the Yankees and the Rays, who occupy the two Wild Card slots. Five other teams sit between those two teams and the Rangers.

The Rangers have already made it clear to other teams they are willing to discuss catcher and first baseman Mike Napoli. Darvish could also end up on that list.

If the Rangers make Darvish available, he would likely be the most sought-after pitcher by contending teams, even though his status as a free agent makes him a two-month rental. The Rangers would still likely get more in return than the single Draft pick they would potentially get if they lose Darvish to free agency after the season.

"I look at the competition for the Wild Card and it's going to be tough," Daniels said. "There's a lot of teams in the mix, but I think we stack up well. The flip side is we've got the reality of where we we're at in the standings with a number of teams."

Daniels said the team is making the rounds to find bullpen help, while also seeking players that can help beyond this season. With three impending free-agent starting pitchers -- Darvish, , -- Daniels cited the rotation as an area to explore improving.

Of course, teams are also checking in with the Rangers, especially as a losing streak reached five games in Baltimore this week. But the panic button has not been hit in Texas, as Daniels said he believes in this group of players and what they are capable of.

"I do think that our ideal world, our perfect world, is we win this year and we also improve our chances going forward," Daniels said. "Can we thread that needle? We'll see. That's one of the things we're looking at."


• The Rangers stuck with the same lineup on Saturday that snapped the team's five-game losing streak Friday against the Rays. That meant a return to batting eighth and Joey Gallo ninth, the fourth time that combo has been used.

While Gomez's speed might tempt some teams to bat him ninth as a "second leadoff hitter," Rangers manager Jeff Banister sees appeal in having Gallo ninth. For one, the young slugger has better lineup protection.

The other reason: "I don't know any other team that has 23 homers in their nine-hole."

has been shut down from his rehab of a partial UCL tear and will have Tommy John surgery next week. He was throwing long toss as recently as 10 days ago before being shut down.